Urban and Community Forestry/Green Infrastructure

Trees Make Good Neighbors

By Dana Karcher | September 28, 2016

Happy National Good Neighbor Day!

Some homeowners are lucky to go through life without the struggle of horrible neighbors. Most of my bad neighbor stories are from my early apartment days when I took what I could get and also what I could afford. Having recently left the best neighbors in the world behind, I was keenly aware of what I was looking for when I moved to Lincoln. But it is hard to know who is lurking behind that front door.

Instead of trying to guess who lived across the street or next door, I focused on the trees. Yes, the trees.

Trees make good neighbors. We all know the good stuff that trees do in our lives every day. They clean the air. They provide homes for animals. (In Lincoln, that would be an army of squirrels!) They save energy by shading our dwellings, and they provide food for us. But what is it about trees that make these neighborhoods special?

Specifically, trees increase property values. Studies have shown that homes with large trees consistently sell for higher amounts than homes without trees. Trees help reduce crime. There are significant dips in property crimes in neighborhoods that have trees. Trees buffer noise. Who doesn’t want a quieter neighborhood? They filter our drinking water. Before hitting the gutter and the drain, water falls on trees to help slow down runoff and waste. In hotter cities, well shaded streets have to be paved less often, resulting in less air pollution from equipment and financial savings for municipalities. Many cost-benefits analyses across the country show that the investment that communities make in trees pay off through the quantified benefits that they provide. All of these tree paybacks make our neighborhoods more livable and desirable.   

A recent study conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation in coordination with Wakefield Research has revealed new information about trees and neighborhoods. Nearly 2/3 of Americans would never buy a house without a tree in the yard. Similarly, 88% of people surveyed would pay more for a house with trees in the yard. And ¾ of Americans would never move to a neighborhood without trees. Trees are important to neighborhoods and I am happy that I am not alone in my focus on neighborhood trees.

So when I settled in my new neighborhood in Lincoln, I bought a house that has two big Pin Oaks in the front yard. There is an amazing Saucer Magnolia tree on the side yard. In the back, there is a monstrous additional Pin Oak, (and four new fruit trees that I planted)! The squirrels are abundant; the variety of birds is astounding. I love my new house and the trees that came with it. But even better is the beautiful family that lives across the street. They shoveled my walk on the first snow, the children tell us stories about school and sports, and they helped us get settled by just being nice. No doubt, it’s the trees that make us gather together in neighborly goodness. They stand as sentinels in our daily lives assuring that their benefits make our neighborhoods great.

Read more reasons trees make good neighbors here.

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